Last week Iceland’s official tourism organisation hit Australian shores for the first time with a series of series of trade events across Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne last week.
The visit indicates an increased focus on inbound travel from the South Pacific and capturing the interest of Antipodean travellers hungry for unique and diverse destinations.
Þorleifur Þór Jónsson, Manager, Trade Delegations, Export service – Distant Markets for Promote Iceland said Iceland is a destination increasing in popularity with Australian travellers of all ages.
“Room nights from Australia have increased from 14,462 in 2014 to 49,852 in 2017. These are similar numbers to countries like Belgium and Italy which are located in closer proximity to Iceland so Australian inbound tourism is certainly a priority for Iceland,” said Jónsson.
“Australians will be drawn to Iceland’s cultural and geographical diversity and some of the most untouched landscapes in the world, sure to satisfy the most intrepid of travellers.
“From puffins in the East to the black beaches of the South, the Museum of Nonsense in the Westfjords, to whale watching in the North; visitors can even cross tectonic plates in Reykjanes, go into a glacier in the West or hit buzzing downtown Reykjavik.”
Agents and wholesalers were introduced to the majesty of Iceland – the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’ – by industry partners Arctic Adventures, Gray Line Iceland, Iceland Tours, Icelandair, and Iceland Travel.
From the illuminating Northern Lights to breath-taking landscapes and some of the world’s most active volcanoes, Iceland is also famous for being one of the most progressive and peaceful nations in the world.
We had a chat with Jónsson to find out more about what the destination has to offer.
Why do you think Aussies are flocking to Iceland?
A few reasons. Firstly, the exposure in film and television has lifted our profile – Game of Thrones, for example, and many others feature destinations in Iceland. Secondly the increase in international flight connections.
And finally, Australians are adventurous and always looking to forge new travel paths.
What do agents need to know to sell Iceland effectively?
Perhaps clearing up some misconceptions about Iceland. Firstly, that we are far away – Iceland is really accessible from most major airports in Europe within a three-hour flight.
Secondly, that we are cold – due to the warming effect from the gulf currents out of the straits of Florida, even in our coldest months from January to March, average temperature in the capital doesn’t fall below -5 degrees.
Compared to other ‘cold countries’ around the world, that is relatively mild.
What are the top three reasons Aussies need to put Iceland on their bucket list?
It is hard to contain it to just three but I would say:
Nature – vastly different to Australian flora and fauna including puffins in the East through to the black beaches of the South;
Landscapes – you can cross tectonic plates in Reykjanes or enter a glacier in the west country.
Sustainability – we are proud to have introduced the Iceland Pledge for visitors to treat the nature with the respect it deserves. This is supported by our official quality system – Vakinn – which rates operators on their environmental initiative. Both programs encourage respect for the environment so that we can all enjoy it.